Right on the heels of his big release of Emergence (available now on TimeSlave Recordings over at Bandcamp!), we’ve got an exclusive interview with the man himself. That’s right, Primorph answered all our questions about the new EP, the writing process as a true DIY artist, and working with TimeSlaves Recordings. It’s a big interview so let’s dive right in!
Echosynthetic: Emergence is done! How do you feel?
Primorph: I feel good! Mostly relieved in truth. The last 8 months we’ve been building a new house and living with my mum (I’m 33, that is not fun) whilst the build happened. My studio has been relegated to a box room full of all our crap the whole time, so writing Emergence has been what kept me sane, albeit cramped. The build and the record got finished around the same time which is nice. Feels like everything is coming together. I’m pretty proud of this EP and really excited to share it with everyone.
Echosynthetic: What was the writing process like?
Primorph: Really organic I just kind of wrote what I wanted to write. I learned a lot from “Light Our Darkest Hour” as it was the first record I really finished to release quality. That process informed my writing in the sense of knowing what would work after the tracks got mastered and when I was trying to cram too much in one place. My music is crazy busy. I often set out to try for minimal and end up with serious layers and complexity. I can’t seem to help myself. It makes a rod for my own back when I reach mix stage. I think I’ve found a nicer balance with this record though.
A lot of producers write music with stories in mind or to a concept. This isn’t that. I tend to have more of a impression of the mood I’d like to convey and work from there. I like to let the track lead me and not be constrained by concepts or narrative too much although It is something I intend to try out at least once in the future…
Echosynthetic: What was your recording set up?
Primorph: Recording? Set up?
I do everything in the box. I’m the epitome of a starving artist. My gear is older than I’d like and not hugely impressive. I always get studio/gear envy when other producers start talking about that stuff. I believe that you can wangle a good sound out of anything if you’re dedicated. That’s my excuse anyway.
Other than the guitars on Orion Pax, which Dan (Hubble) recorded in his studio in Spain and sent over, everything else on the record is soft synths and samples. Although, I usually sequence everything and this time I played a few of the solos in on my midi keys. I’m a drummer so my keys playing is still developing but I liked how it sounded… I hope everyone else does too…..
Echosynthetic: What has it been like working with TimeSlave Recordings?
Primorph: Great! It’s a really supportive, enthusiastic and talented roster so I’m really pleased to be involved. They are trying to build something there and I’m glad to be a part of it from an early stage. Big things to come from Timeslave Recordings in the future. Stay tuned…..
Echosynthetic: What were your thoughts on being included in the FutureSounds Vol 1 compilation?
Primorph: I was honoured to feature alongside such a stellar line up. I did panic a bit at how my production would hold up against the big artists but I think I squeezed by without embarrassing myself too badly. First and foremost it was for great cause and we raised a lot of moola so everyone’s a winner.
Echosynthetic: What is the story behind Primorph?
Primorph: I was releasing my stuff under the name “New Gods of Cybertron” and getting nowhere fast. The guy who does all my artwork now, Dai, suggested a rebrand. We started banging heads over new names. I wanted to stay away from the generic names and art styles in the genre and carve out a little niche for myself so we quickly discounted anything with lasers, palm trees, neon or grids (disclaimer: I love all that stuff it’s just been done a lot). We had a bunch of ideas for names but a lot were already taken and I wanted to be unique. Once we’d hit on the name a vague storyline and a Primorph character started to form between us. Primorph is the fella you’ll see on the Emergence cover. Dai is honestly such a great artist and all-round creative mind that I kind of wanted to play to his strengths and let him off the leash creatively so I just kind of gave him his head and ran with it. I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Echosynthetic: When you aren’t writing brilliant synthwave, what do you do for fun?
Primorph: I just work and write really. I’m very lucky in that my job is composing and sound designing for video games so it’s a hobby I get paid for. I’ve loved games since I was a kid and music too, so it’s like combining my two favourite pastimes with a pay check. It keeps me very busy.
When I do get a bit of down time I like spending time with my kid and my partner, watching films, listening to all sorts of music and playing my drums. I also read a lot. Mainly fantasy or Sci-fi.
Echosynthetic: Speaking of synthwave, what got you into it?
Primorph: I was working on a sci-fi game which had a strong “Tron-like” aesthetic, I’d kind of channeled John Carpenter and written most of the OST but the boss heard it and rejected it as “too 80’s” so I had to go back to the drawing board. The concept artist on the game, Chris, heard the stuff I’d written and commented that I must love synthwave. I had never heard of it so he put me onto some of the bigger names, I think it was Lazerhawk and Perturbator that I first listened to. It was love at first sound. I delved into the genre and it was like coming home. I repurposed a lot of that OST into my early releases. Metroplexual and Debauchery from my debut EP were actually written for that game as was Orion Pax from Emergence.
Echosynthetic: Your music has a futuristic, sci-fi feel to it. Where does the inspiration come from?
Primorph: I take inspiration from everything. We are just input and output devices at our core. Stimulus goes in, something has to come out and for me that’s music. I guess the sci-fi style in particular comes from all the games, films, cartoons and comics I consumed as a kid and since. I’ve always loved that dark futuristic kind of stuff. The inside of my head is like a dystopian future playing on loop and my music is the soundtrack! Through loving sci-fi and horror films I started to follow the work of John Carpenter and Delia Derbyshire (who are two of my heroes) and many other composers from the genres. I have to say though that video games are probably my biggest musical influence. There’s something about the amount of hours that a fanatical gamer puts into each game and the amount they listen to the music as a result that really makes it all stick in your head. Particularly FFVII and classic retro games. There was something so imaginative about how the composers from the early days of video game music had to work around their technological restrictions. They had to make melody key. I think that’s what it is for me. Melody. It’s the common thread that draws together all my musical influences. I was a frustrated EDM producer who always tried to fit too much melody into my tracks until I found synthwave.
Echosynthetic: What does the future hold for Primorph?
Primorph: A little bit of down time immediately whilst I convert my garden shed into a studio. I’m still developing my freelance composition business and looking for grants to improve my gear and premises. Once that is done I’ll be writing for Primorph again but hopefully able to produce better sounding stuff and record more live elements with the new setup.
A live show – My background is in live music, I drummed for several rock bands in the heady days of my youth and I miss it. The only downside to producing solo is the lack of camaraderie that you get in a band. So I’m tentatively putting the feelers out for personnel and planning to rock out my midi drum kit with a couple of synth players and a guitarist. Know anyone who fits that bill in Wales?
Development of the Primorph backstory. Dai has been talking about a graphic novel to accompany a concept/narrative album. I’m keen to try it. We’ve been playing around with a backstory for the Primorph character. He’s some kind of post apocalyptic, alternate evolution of humankind. Scavenging the technology of a long dead society. He’s kind of a way to take the focus off me. As you may have gathered, I’m a fairly bland individual.
In the very near future you’ll be able to hear a little project I’m working on with some of the Timeslave guys. A little experiment in remixing each other’s tracks…..
Basically just trying to keep producing stuff I enjoy and build up my audience so I can make some sales so I can buy better gear. Rinse and repeat.
Echosynthetic: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Primorph: A few actually.
My family for understanding the hours I spend in a darkened room doing all of this.
Dai for putting up with me and producing great graphics. Check him out. He’s excellent: www.drawnbydai.com
Chris Phillips (the colleague who first put me onto synthwave). He really encouraged me to put my stuff out there and provided the awesome artwork for my first record. Check him out too : http://chrisphillipsconcept.weebly.com
Vince and everyone at Timeslave for being welcoming and supportive.
Dan Hubble for scorching guitar solos.
Everyone who has supported, bought or shared my music.
And finally all the great reviewers and bloggers who have written nice things about me, yourself included! It really makes my day when people dig what I’m doing and it helps a LOT to have someone shouting about it.